Robert Edward Lee was an American Confederate general best known as a commander of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He led the Army of Northern Virginia from 1862 until its surrender in 1865 and earned a reputation as a skilled tactician.
A son of Revolutionary War officer Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee III, Lee was a top graduate of the United States Military Academy and an exceptional officer and military engineer in the United States Army for 32 years. During this time, he served throughout the United States, distinguished himself during the Mexican–American War, and served as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy. He was also the husband of Mary Anna Custis Lee, adopted great-granddaughter of George Washington. When Virginia's 1861 Richmond Convention declared secession from the Union, Lee chose to follow his home state, despite his desire for the country to remain intact and an offer of a senior Union command. During the first year of the Civil War, he served in minor combat operations and as a senior military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.